Difference Between Tex Mex and Cal Mex Cuisines

Posted in Food and Fun

Most “Mexican” food north of the border is Tex Mex, right? Sort of.

True, we Texans are a proud bunch who love seeing our state’s namesake emblazoned on the cuisine. But the fact remains that there are other regions who definitely put both their own spin on it, and also lay claim by name.

Whether you realize it or not, you’ve probably unwittingly had Cal Mex cuisine at your favorite Tex Mex restaurant. Though it is very similar to the Tex Mex dishes prepared here in Texas there are a few (minor) differences that certainly set it apart:

  1. Californians in general tend to demand healthier foods, and the Mexican food restaurants in the Golden State have answered with more dishes offering fish and fresh vegetables. Even traditional dishes such as fajitas take on a healthy flavor with leaner cuts of beef and additional veggies.
  2. Ask most California residents and they’ll tell you that they tend to like their taco shells crispy rather than soft.
    Cal Mex food also has more garlic than Tex Mex, which may be its one saving grace.
  3. Go to California and ask for refried beans and you could get some funny looks. Most of their dishes are served with black or white beans instead.
  4. Not accustomed to seeing black olives in your Tex Mex food? That’s because they’re rarely – if ever – in a Tex Mex dish. Interestingly, they’re found in plenty of Cal Mex cuisines.
  5. If you notice that your meal is heavy on the cheese you can be almost certain you’re enjoying a Tex Mex dish.
  6. Since Fallbrook, California is the avocado capital of the world, it should come as no surprise that the majority of Cal Mex dishes are served with guacamole.
  7. Though picadillo tacos are served in both regions, shredded beef tacos are much more common in California than in Texas.
  8. Tex Mex aficionados love their chili and the hotter the better!
  9. Being the health nuts they are, you may be more likely to find heavier helpings of lettuce and tomato in your Cal Mex tacos.
  10. Californians also love their sour cream, especially on what is commonly known here in the Lone Star State as a Chalupa. Though if you’re ever out west you’ll want to refer to it as a tostado.

Every region has its own take on a particular cuisine. Tex Mex/Mexican food in New Mexico will be a lot different than it is in Texas. Even Tex Mex in Houston will be different than what you’ll find here in Dallas.

If you once lived in California, what do you see as the main difference(s) between Cal Mex and Tex Mex cuisines? Do you prefer the California style, or have you embraced Tex Mex?

Whether you want a taco with beef (shredded or not), or with chicken, if you’ve a hankering for great Tex Mex cuisine, make sure you visit a Mattito’s near you soon. We look forward to serving you!